Summary: I used to work as a tour guide in a Scottish castle, so I was used to telling this kind of anecdote. See if you can recognise this one. It is not about Scottish clans and lands. It comes from the Bible.


This is a true story concerning a wise woman, a foolish chieftain, and a band of outlaws.

The leader of the outlaws was an honourable man who, like Robin Hood in England, had unjustly fallen into disfavour with the ruler of the land. Whereas Robin Hood made it his responsibility to 'rob from the rich to give to the poor,' our hero was renowned for defending the local shepherds from would be marauders and rustlers. He even defended the shepherds and flocks of the foolish rich chieftain!

In some countries, it is customary to offer hospitality to all-comers, particularly on feast days. In Scotland on New Year‘s day, for just one example, the stranger at the door is welcomed and brought indoors.

Well, a feast day came, and the leader of the outlaws sent a reasonable request for some provisions to the chieftain. The messengers came away with their ears stinging: 'I don’t know who you are - so many serfs break away from their masters!'

Reporting back to their leader, he vowed outright war: every man was to gird on his sword!

Thankfully, the shepherds got to hear of it, and reported the matter to the chieftain’s wife, knowing that she was not of such an uncharitable and ungrateful spirit as her husband. With all due haste, she put together provisions for the band of outlaws, and ventured out herself to deliver the gift. She made this peace-offering, not condescendingly as one might have expected of the nobility, but humbly, and with a willingness to take the blame for her husband’s folly. Diplomatically, she praised the virtues of the leader of the outlaws, and acknowledged that he had been wronged: and recognised that God would have better things for him by and by.

The leader of the outlaws thanked God that he had been prevented from such vengeful blood-letting as had been on his mind, and accepted the gift, and the apology of the wise woman, and sent her away in peace.

When she got back home, her husband had got ahead with the feasting, and was too drunk to tell what she had done. But she told him in the morning, and he had a fit of apoplexy which rendered him invalid for ten days, after which time he died!

Hearing news of the chieftain’s death, the leader of the outlaws could not bring himself to mourn, and recognised the providence and justice of what had happened: the chieftain himself had got his due without the mass blood-letting at the hand of the outlaws that had been threatened just days before.

This story has a happy end, too. The leader of the outlaws proposed to the widow, and she joined his band with five of her maids. In time he rose to high office in the ruling of his country.

The chieftain’s name was Nabal - which means “Fool!” His wise wife was Abigail. The leader of the outlaws, who rose to be king in his country, was David.

You can read this true story for yourselves in the Bible, in 1 Samuel 25.

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